Sitting on my couch trying to convince myself to be healthy I decided to flip over to the Warriors-Kings game because the score was tight for the first half and DeMarcus Cousins apparently played the whole first 24. So by dumb luck I ended up watching NBA history as Klay Thompson turned into an NBA Jam cheat code. Continue reading…
I know some of you sick fucks will torture your souls this weekend by watching the Pro Bowl. I hope to god that makes you feel just terrible. I thought about doing a “serious” preview of the Pro Bowl where I broke down the matchups and the coaching staffs and gave serious advice on gambling the game but I couldn’t bring myself to it. I also wanted to do a post about my favorite NBA play of last night but my video quality was terrible and I’m apparently the only person who thought it was noteworthy. So what have I turned to? The next lowest kind of draft post next to the mock draft of somebody who doesn’t study team needs and doesn’t know how to assess talent: the diamonds in the rough! Except I’m not looking for the diamonds in the rough as in low draft picks, I just mean players that seem like they could make an immediate impact but aren’t already household names. Onward and upward, get ready to see these guys who are starring at the Senior Bowl practices playing in the NFL next year: Continue reading…
After listening to the press conferences from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady today, a thought hit me: Everything we think we know so far about the league’s investigation has come from a single “sourced” report from ESPN’s Chris Mortenson. So truthfully, we don’t “know” anything.
The sheer fact that the NFL has remained so silent on this and let the story drag on says an awful lot about the league and what they think happened. When Brady said today that he still hasn’t been talked to by Roger Goodell or anyone from the league, that really set off alarms. The league originally said this would be resolved in two or three days at most (according to Troy Vincent). Today was day four, and they still apparently haven’t even bothered to talk to the first person that should have been involved – the man who, on Sunday morning grabbed a ball or two, tossed them around and said “That’s what I want to use for the game.”
My first post in this space on the Ryder Cup looked ahead at players who were likely to rise and fall over the next two years in the run up to 2016 and Hazeltine. Here is what I wrote about Jimmy Walker’s prospects:
“Jimmy Walker. Wait! Walker was one of only about 3 guys who didn’t crap his pants this time. How could he not make the team! Look, I hear you. Walker showed some serious onions all week that I never knew he had. Hell, I never heard of Jimmy Walker until around March or so. Remember the reference to the Frys.com Open way back 10,000 words ago? Well, last years tournament was won by none other than Jimmy Walker. He parlayed that into 2 more wins in the early season culminating in a career year for a guy most would refer to as a journeyman. 2014 was his first year in 14 years as a professional he was qualified for all 4 Majors. I like Walker. Seems like a good guy. Also seems like a guy ready to regress back to his mean.”
Whoops! Looks like I got that one wrong! Walker defended his Sony Open win of a year ago with a Roryesque massacre of a 63 on Sunday leaving poor Matt Kuchar and a few others in his wake (See what I did there? Hawaii. WAKE. Get it? Ahem). Compare that to the performance across the seas by Martin Kaymer at Abu Dhabi. Kaymer, with two Major Championships and who served as number 1 in the world for a bit in 2011, is widely seen as one of a handful of players that can challenge for the crown held by McIlroy. But he blew a TEN SHOT lead over the final 13 holes in the largest collapse I’ve ever heard of for a non major. It was two different fields and two different tournaments so I am not directly comparing. But it’s fair to look at the two and say Kaymer is at minimum top 5 or so in the world and choked like a dog. Walker who hardly any casual fan could pick out of a lineup took a lead and turned on the afterburners. Walker has went from the epitome of journeyman and a no name to the verge of superstardom. So the question becomes, is Walker ready to become a factor on Major Championship Sundays?
A fair number of golfers have come into their own in their mid 30’s although it is not the preferred method for gaining immortality. Phil Mickelson himself didn’t win his first Major until age 33. Walker turned 36 last week. So while the idea of winning Majors at Mickelson’s level is fanciful, there is every opportunity to pick up at least one if not two or three with this level of play. Just off the top of my head the player who comps best with Walker is Tom Lehman. I want to stress this is just gut feeling. I didn’t go into a full analysis here. So there may be a better player to contrast but Lehman is a reasonable facsimile to make the point. Lets look briefly at Lehman’s career.
Lehman turned pro in 1983 and bounced around on every Tour you can name for a decade. He finally made the PGA Tour a permanent home in 1992 at age 33. I remember Lehman most for Norman like suffering at the U.S. Open where he held the 54 lead 3 consecutive years in ’95-’97 but was unable to finish. He made gallant efforts at Augusta as well in ’93 and ’94 at age 34 and 35. He won five times overall on Tour (non Majors) starting with the Memorial at age 35. From 1994-1996 he was a threat to win anywhere anytime and in fact reached #1 in the world for one week over that period. He had one final hurrah in 2000 at age 40 but after that was largely done. The era of Eldrick Woods was upon us.
So Lehman’s dominant period came over ages 35-37, right in the current wheelhouse of our subject Jimmy Walker. Some would argue its lazy to focus solely on age and that’s a reasonable criticism. I am a big believer in history repeating itself though. There is a very good reason there are few players who won Majors in their 40’s. If Walker wants to turn a nice career into a possible Hall of Fame one he needs to start now. One thing we can say is Walker is getting a later start than Lehman. However, he has now won 4 events in about 13 months putting him on pace to exceed Lehman’s win total. He did have top 10’s in three of the four Major’s last year. He was not ever in serious contention in any but its important to see he didn’t go out there and puke on his shoes under greater pressure. As noted, it was also the only year he has ever played all four Majors in the same year and in fact had only 6 Major starts since 2001 prior to last year.
Truly, Lehman led a charmed life compared to Walker. When you dig deep into the numbers of Walker’s career its pretty amazing he didn’t give it up and go sell copiers or securities. I have utmost admiration for those who refuse to give in and continue pursuing a passion. The truth is in all walks of life people fail most often due to fear of failure. If anyone had reason to be afraid it would be Walker and he flipped fate off and made his way. This is a guy to root for.
I had forecasted a McIlroy U.S. Open win this season but if I had to pick one most suited for Walker it would be that one. The Sony is a LONGGG way from U.S. Open pressure but Sunday he led the field in putting, hit 16 greens, and didn’t make a bogey with the lead. Thats how you win USGA events. Walker is not a bomber like McIlroy or Bubba Watson but he has been around the top 20 in driving distance. That should be plenty long enough to be a factor at Augusta as well. There, it always comes down to putting of course and this man has shown no reason to think he can’t handle those greens in the Sunday crucible. Saying it and doing it are very different things. This season will be the one most looked on when Jimmy Walkers career is evaluated.
All in all a pretty cool story and definitely bears watching as we start the long cold road to Spring.
OK, I don’t have time to write the stuff I want to write but the power of Christ compels me to post something so here you go: Continue reading…